Microsoft: The Lonely Giant?

Microsoft isn't really trying to take over the world—it just wants to be loved. At a recent Gartner Symposium, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer defended Microsoft's corporate culture and described the company as a little surprised by the disdain it receives from the outside world. Ballmer explained that Microsoft has grown so fast that it still thinks and acts like a scrappy upstart. "Nobody wants to be the 800-pound gorilla that no one can get along with," he said in response to a question about Microsoft being the Evil Empire. "We have a lot of zest and passion. If we don't have customers, we want to know why. Just being large and passionate—it gets hard for the positive impulse to come out."

One thing Ballmer has learned after years of litigation and court time is that the company needs to do a better job of working with its partners. "Our industry is built on having an ecosystem," he said. "We are humbled that people we thought were close partners didn't come out and support us." Ballmer noted that he'd recently held discussions—for the first time in years—with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, to ensure that Oracle's products work well with Microsoft's. "Our company has to be viewed more positively by the computing industry," he added.

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